Ex-players make a difference via golf event

Ex-players make a difference via golf event

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -- More than a dozen former Major League Baseball players were among approximately 30 athletes who participated in a charity golf tournament and affiliated events this past weekend, raising money for a few worthwhile causes and brightening the lives of some individuals with special needs.

The second annual 2LiveBeyond Celebrity Golf Tournament was held on May 30 at the Members Club at Grande Dunes. Former MLB players who participated included six-time All-Star Bobby Bonilla, power-hitting outfielder George Foster of the Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine teams, and several former pitchers, including Russ Ortiz, Tom Hume and Jim Perry.

The tournament is hosted by retired 17-year outfielder Reggie Sanders and retired nine-year National Football League wide receiver Andre Davis, both of whom live in Myrtle Beach, and benefits charities with which the two are affiliated.

The Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association assisted tournament organizers in securing the participation of former players, and numerous former NFL players also participated.

The event includes a concert and party with live and silent auctions at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach on the eve of the tournament.

The motto of the 2LiveBeyond initiative is "to live beyond ourselves so others can dream beyond their circumstances." The event benefits the Grand Strand Miracle League, which provides activities and sports for individuals with special needs, the Reggie Sanders Foundation and Africa New Life Ministries.

Africa New Life Ministries, based in Rwanda, cares for, feeds, clothes and educates more than 6,000 children. Tournament proceeds will help build a health clinic there.

Sanders' foundation focuses on assisting children with autism and their families in the greater Pee Dee and Grand Strand areas, and works with SOS Healthcare and its Applied Behavior Analysis therapists to detect autism and assist families. Sanders has an autistic brother.

Bonilla, a teammate of Sanders' on a playoff squad in Atlanta, was invited for the inaugural event, in 2014, but he had a prior commitment related to amateur baseball and couldn't attend.

"I'm just glad I got a phone call from Reggie. He really has a great heart," Bonilla said. "He does some phenomenal things in the community, which you've got to be really proud of. He's really diving into it and making a big difference, so I'm happy for him. Reggie's a special individual."

The live auction included vacations, plus signed and framed jerseys of such athletes as Derek Jeter, Joe Montana and Steph Curry, and raised approximately $50,000.

"I thought it was a phenomenal effort on everybody's part to have such a successful auction," said Bonilla, who purchased a vacation package at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas at the auction that he plans to use with his family.

Athletes played in the 2LiveBeyond tournament with four-person amateur teams. The entry fee was $1,500 per player ($5,000 per team), and the tournament was sold out with approximately 30 teams. Up to 750 spectators were admitted at either $25 for general admission or $100 for VIP tickets.

The tournament raised approximately $80,000 in 2014, with 45 percent going to the Reggie Sanders Foundation, 45 percent to Africa New Life Ministries and 10 percent to the Miracle League. The donation percentages are same in 2015; proceeds are expected to exceed 2014 numbers.

"Typically, when you do a first event, you're in the red, so we were able to not be in the red, which was a blessing," Sanders said.

Though it's not part of the fund-raising activities, a highlight for many of the athletes is a baseball game the day before the golf tournament at the Miracle League field, during which celebrity athletes partner with Miracle League participants.

"I do it because I know I'm blessed, my family is blessed, my kids are blessed, and I want to give blessings to kids who have challenges," said World Series-winning second baseman Tony Womack. "They are still blessed. God created them. We're all different. Just because they don't have what we have on an everyday basis, it doesn't mean they can't be blessed."

Womack's partner was a particularly active young girl who kept him on his toes for the duration of the game.

"If you don't take something out of it, you didn't do it right and didn't interact with them. You've got to take something out of it," Womack said. "My girl ... She had my hamstrings working, because all she wanted to do was run around, and I chased her. That's the interaction. That's the whole thing. She needed somebody to keep up with her, and that was me."

Al Blondin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.